Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Raising capital can be a challenge for anyone, but particularly for small businesses. Oftentimes, investors are looking to put their money into something with multinational growth potential rather than something more local. In many cases, you may need to raise smaller amounts, possibly in the thousands of dollars or the tens of thousands. Therefore, to raise money as a small business requires a different approach.
As a multimillionaire real estate investor and trainer, I often teach my students how to raise capital for their first property deal. Many of my students are new to real estate and are looking to purchase a relatively cheap property in the North of England. This is unlikely to be of interest to a seasoned angel investor, but there are lots of people that this type of investment would suit very well. In many ways, this is a similar situation to raising capital as a small businessperson.
I have found that there are many ways to raise capital for a small enterprise, whether as a joint venture or in the form of debt. Once you have mastered these skills, you will have a world of opportunity in front of you. But first a note of caution: Each jurisdiction has different rules regarding raising capital, so seek independent legal advice to make sure your chosen approach is compliant.
Related: 3 Ways to Raise Capital and Take Your Business to the Next Level
1. Talk to people you know
When I am training my students, they sometimes tell me that they don’t know anyone rich to approach. The reality is, however, that when raising smaller amounts, you don’t actually need to know anyone rich. Many ordinary people have savings in the bank that are sitting there being eaten away by inflation. These people are often willing to lend that money out for a much higher return than they would get from the bank.
Of course, they will need to know that their money will be safe. In real estate, this often means the debt will be secured against the property. In other areas of business, it might mean securing the debt against product inventory or by other means. Alternatively, depending on the other party’s risk tolerance, you could consider a joint venture partnership where you share the profits.
Asking people you know for an investment can put both parties in a difficult position, therefore it is important to phrase your request correctly. Rather than asking directly, simply talk about your project and ask if they know anyone who might be interested in investing. If they want to invest, they will let you know. If they don’t want to invest, they can pass on the deal without any awkwardness. In addition, even if they don’t want to invest, there is always the chance that they know someone who might.
Related: 5 Innovative Ways for Entrepreneurs to Raise Capital in Today’s Market
2. Connect at business networking events
The next way to raise capital is to attend business networking events. Business networking events are a great way to get to know people who are potentially interested in investing in new projects. It is important to remember, however, that all the other business people attending the event are also looking to promote their business. You need to listen and learn about what they are doing and find ways for your project to solve their problems.
There may be people who are looking to deploy capital either to get a fixed return or on the basis of a joint venture partnership. Of course, these people are highly unlikely to want to invest in your project on the basis of a single meeting at a networking event! Your job is to plant a seed.
Explain what your business is and mention that one way you expand is to raise capital from business owners who want to put their money to work. Explain that they prefer not to keep their money in the bank where its purchasing power is being eaten away by inflation. Don’t suggest that they invest at this stage. Let them think about what you have said and come to you.
Related: How Entrepreneurs Can Maximize Networking to Increase Funding
3. Engage on social media
Another way to get investors’ attention is to document your journey on social media. People invest with people that they know, like and trust — and social media is a great way to get people to know, like and trust you, so long as you’re authentic.
If you let others see the human being behind the brand, you will find like-minded people who gravitate toward your personality and vision. These people are more likely to want to invest in your business or project. You don’t need millions of subscribers on YouTube or Instagram either, just a few highly targeted followers who care about your brand.
When raising money from the public on social media, it is especially important to make sure you are following the law. Speak to a lawyer and understand what is and isn’t allowed in your jurisdiction. However, as long as you follow the applicable rules, social media is a great way to connect with investors.
It’s time to take action
It can be hard to raise capital for a small local business if you haven’t learned the right strategies. Ultimately, however, raising capital is possible at any level — if you employ the correct approach. If you know how to find and communicate with your target investors correctly, you can easily raise capital for your small business.
You have just learned everything from how to correctly approach people you know to how to use social media to your advantage. Now that you have read this article, it is time to take action. Those who take little to no action will continue to find raising capital hard. On the other hand, those who apply the lessons above will find that raising capital for their small enterprise is a lot easier than they thought.